cyn·​ic | \ˈsi-nik \

Definition of cynic 

1 : a faultfinding captious critic especially : one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest Of course, there will always be cynics when companies make good-faith apologies and seek to follow through. — Andrew Ross Sorkin

2 capitalized : an adherent of an ancient Greek school of philosophers who held the view that virtue is the only good and that its essence lies in self-control and independence

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Other Words from cynic

cynic adjective

Did You Know?

The ancient Greece school of philosophers known as Cynics was founded by Antisthenes, a contemporary of Plato. Antisthenes is said to have taught at a gymnasium outside Athens called the Kynosarges, from which the name of the school, kynikoi, literally, “doglike ones,” may be derived. On the other hand, the name is most closely associated with the most famous Cynic philosopher, Diogenes of Sinope. Diogenes rejected social conventions and declared that whatever was natural and easy could not be indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. This shamelessness earned him the Greek epithet ho kyōn, “the dog.” In English, however, cynic and cynical have more to do with distrust of motives than shamelessness.

Examples of cynic in a Sentence

He's too much of a cynic to see the benefits of marriage. A cynic might think that the governor visited the hospital just to gain votes. Reporters who cover politics often become cynics.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Now, the cynics (yes, there are a few of you out there, and that’s my biggest understatement of the year) will point to the fact that there were 35 more races and three more live racing days than last year. John Cherwa,, "Racing! Digging down into the Santa Anita numbers," 30 June 2018 Civil servants cited regulations; cynics noted the mayor’s rivalry with the president. The Economist, "How African cities can pay for their own upkeep," 5 Apr. 2018 Contrary to what the cynics say, Choo has been healthy more often than not. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "Rangers Reaction: It's July, and Rangers have some restocking to do," 1 July 2018 And yes, there are certainly cynics who may feel that Apple and Google’s efforts are disingenuous — after all, these companies have always wanted to ensure that users, hardware sales, and, most importantly, profits go up ahead of anything else. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "How do Apple’s Screen Time and Google Digital Wellbeing stack up?," 5 June 2018 Evelyn, a tech genius who’s eventually revealed to be the film’s chief villain Screenslaver, is a cynic. David Sims, The Atlantic, "What Incredibles 2 Says About Hero Worship," 20 June 2018 Still, even the strictest cynic will admit that the sport is getting cleaner. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "Stop Boycotting Pro Cycling," 6 July 2018 The cynic in me found the vision hokey; the dreamer in me would have liked to disappear with them. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, "The Sonic Fury of the Ojai Music Festival," 24 June 2018 More Doc: FC Cincinnati has been major league from the beginning For a certain cynic, golf is a Calvinistic endeavor. Paul Daugherty,, "Paul Daugherty: No great shot goes unpunished," 11 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cynic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cynic

1542, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for cynic

Middle French or Latin, Middle French cynique, from Latin cynicus, from Greek kynikos, literally, like a dog, from kyn-, kyōn dog — more at hound

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Statistics for cynic

Last Updated

25 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for cynic

The first known use of cynic was in 1542

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English Language Learners Definition of cynic

: a person who has negative opinions about other people and about the things people do; especially : a person who believes that people are selfish and are only interested in helping themselves

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What made you want to look up cynic? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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